in Careers Advice, Training Contracts, Pupillage and Work Experience

A third class degree and re-entering the law

A graduate has recently written to us to ask us for advice on what to do with a third class degree and a potential legal career. The graduate finished at university in September 2017 with a third class law degree and his query to us also stated the fact that he had not got any legal work experience during his law degree or after. What type of job would be suitable for him?

Our advice is fairly simple: if you have not got any legal experience and have worked in non-related law fields since graduating l(this particular graduate had only worked as a barman) then your chances of getting into law are bordering on zero if not into the minus figures.

Quite how anyone can go through 3 years of a law degree, finish, work in a non-professional job and then think that in any way, shape or form they could possibly get into law and progress a career is just beyond me. This is a classic example of the need to get work experience in any profession that you were thinking of going into. I have lost track of the amount of times over the years I have given out this advice, which is the same every single time someone like this gets in touch. If you have a third class law degree your chances of ever getting a job in law are very slim because there are so many other people looking for work, and so few of them have a third class law degree. Furthermore, by not actually seeing what work a solicitor does whilst studying or even afterwards leaves me to wonder why on earth you would want to come back into law when you don’t even know what a solicitor actually does.

There are plenty of solicitors and lawyers out there with third class degrees who have qualified and have enjoyed extensive careers in law, but they are usually people who have strived to succeed, obtained experience, have connections or built connections and worked extremely hard to get where they are. It is very rare to meet someone who is working as a waiter with a third class degree and absolutely no legal work experience walking into a legal job without any effort at all.

This advice may sound unbelievably harsh and fairly cruel.

It is. But so is the world. After all, if you are enjoying your work as a waiter or a barman, why not look into staying in that field rather than going into something completely different? Have you considered opening your own bar or restaurant, or looking at getting qualified into management in the hospitality industry? Have a think, but whatever you do make sure your decision is backed up with actual evidence rather than just wishful thinking.

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at